Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Record resolutions: At stake for 'Philly'
By Austin Ward
Corey "Philly" Brown could take aim at the Ohio State receptions record set by David Boston in 1998.
Ohio State hardly needs motivation thanks to the chip on its shoulder already firmly in place after sitting out the postseason with a perfect record. But just in case any players required any extra fuel heading into workouts or wanted a little help putting together some goals, BuckeyeNation is here to lend a hand with some records that could be in reach with another productive offseason.
Who owns it: Like most marks for wide receivers, it's a safe bet to throw out the name of David Boston -- and his 1998 season easily stands out as one of the most impressive statistical campaigns Ohio State has had at any position. His 85 catches that year are 12 more than any other target has ever snagged with the Buckeyes, and the next-closest total belongs to Boston as well. However, with a 12-game season and potentially two chances in the postseason to track him down, that record could be vulnerable down the road as Ohio State continues to expand its spread offense under Urban Meyer.
Who wants it:Corey "Philly" Brown endured his share of jokes about failing to make tacklers miss early in the season and was obviously a part of a group that took more serious criticism before that from the coaching staff during spring practice and the offseason after struggling to make any impact in 2011. But the rising senior steadily became the kind of playmaker Meyer could trust on the perimeter and started piling up catches in big games, with his 12-reception outing against Michigan State providing strong hints of what Brown could offer after another year to develop.
Relevant number: Boston's impressive 7.1 receptions per game might wind up being safe, though Brown could potentially give that mark a run for its money as well, depending on how the run-to-pass ratio is tweaked in Meyer's second season with the program. Brown finished up at an even five catches per contest after finishing the season with eight catches in the win over Michigan, and his total of 60 was the sixth-highest in school history. With two more opportunities potentially at his disposal than Boston had in his record-setting season, Brown would need to average about six receptions per game to claim the top spot in the record books -- a figure he hit or exceeded five times as a junior.
Offseason checklist: The Buckeyes were rarely shy about getting Brown involved in the offense, establishing right from the opener that he would be a featured weapon by throwing to him seven times in the win over Miami (Ohio). But as the staff gained confidence in his ability to break tackles and tack on extra yardage in the open field, it seemed to expand the package of plays designed to get him the football with everything from quick-hitting throws on the perimeter to touch passes as he came in motion through the formation. Typically the Buckeyes got him the ball near the line of scrimmage, though, and if he and Miller can develop their chemistry even more during the offseason and Brown takes another step forward as a route-runner, his reliable hands should see even more use.
Attainable goal: The variety of ways the Buckeyes can get Brown involved puts the record in reach for him, though the number of weapons returning on offense could possibly be a factor in keeping his numbers in check even if he returns as a much more dangerous option next fall. Devin Smith should be a more consistent factor at the other receiver spot, Michael Thomas and Evan Spencer figure to play more prominent roles -- and then there's the running game to consider with Carlos Hyde teaming up with Miller again in the backfield. But it wouldn't take too dramatic of a jump in production for Brown to challenge one of Boston's top records, and he should be prepared for it after seeing what the spread offense can do for him during Ohio State's perfect debut season with it.